Bonhoeffer once said:
“One who worries about the loss of time that such petty, outward acts of helpfulness entail is usually taking the importance of his own career too solemnly.”
It’s true. How often do we become so wrapped up in creating order and meaning in our own lives that we forget to be lovers and doers for others whose lives we intersect? We get lost in building up existences out of vapor, because we forget that we are nothing and our plans result in nothing, outside of Christ. He is the only meaning that we can find here. His glory is the only purpose to wrap ourselves up in.
The beautiful truth of it is this: God is glorified when we take care of those in need. The book of Matthew says:
“The King will reply, ‘Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me.’” -Matthew 25:40
So, if the whole point of existing is to live for God, and if God said that what we do for others out of love we have done onto Him, then it should be a simple thing to never take ourselves so seriously that we won’t help others. What in the world could be more important? We have been given hands and feet to serve and a mouth to spread words of good news.
If it were easy to distill life to that one simple truth, I think many of our problems would disappear. We ourselves don’t matter. There is nothing that we can do with ourselves to give us worth. All the time we spend forgetting others as we pursue ourselves is a waste.
These things have been running through my head lately. As I sit here at this desk in my dorm room, I am surrounded by things designed to make me succeed. I have valuable textbooks and dedicated faculty and polished finished papers. Here I am worried about my grade. I take it too solemnly. I spend some days finishing my sculptures instead of taking the bus to the family mission with my friends to serve. I decide writing essays means more than helping a friend.
It is easy to justify these things. Sometimes it seems utterly necessary to focus only on my agenda. I’m spending thousands of dollars on this education, after all! Good grades means keeping my scholarships and being able to financially afford staying at this institution. It means just about everything to me.
There is no denying that I have to take my education seriously instead of wasting my time here. But at the very same time, it is incredibly important to remember that it is not the most important thing. The whole reason I am here to get a degree is so that I can go out into the world and glorify God through my work. I cannot put this same agenda on hold, just because it is human nature to do so.
These are the many things that Bonhoeffer has been causing to swirl in my head today. Right now I have a test to study for and bags to pack for winter break. I am wishing winter would truly give us a break. Yet, even with the work ahead, I am reminded not to lose sight of what God truly desires from me. All He wants is all of me. All of my time, efforts, and plans are to be His.